Products Magazine spoke with Bill French, the new owner of Wood-Mode, a custom cabinetry company that previously closed in 2019 and put nearly 1,000 people out of work. French is focused on rehiring community members, strengthening the brand, and preserving the company's signature luxury custom-cabinet style.
Nigel Maynard, editor-in-chief of Products Magazine: This is Nigel Maynard, editor of Products Magazine, coming to you from International Builders’ Show 2020 in Las Vegas. So last year the cabinet company would mode abruptly shuttered its doors, but a savior stepped in to save the company. Bill French, you are the new owner of Wood-Mode as of August correct, yes?
Bill French, new owner of Wood-Mode: That's correct. I bought the assets of Wood-Mode Inc., and we started a new company Wood-Mode, LLC. And we're off to a good start
N: So what made you decide to step in and buy Wood-Mode?
B: As part of my neighborhood, I know a number of people who were laid off from Wood-Mode. 938 people were laid off, and I know a number of them because they're my community members. And so that spiked my interest.
N: So Vince, were you familiar with Wood-Mode before?
Vince Hodshire, represntative of Wood-Mode: Oh yes, I was a rep for 10 years.
N: Okay so you were working with them before?
V: Yes, I was with the previous owner. Yeah, there’s a huge difference in approach. I can say that, and it's been very well received. Bill's been out meeting with clients, listening to our dealers, so there's an energy in that ramp up that's starting to really take hold. Because they feel like, you hit on it, was kind of stodgy, resting on their past, and now it's kind of a great feeling to have a new future.
N: A lot of companies are moving towards more nimble production. They're more focused on consumers and how consumers shop… Do you have, or not even do you have, but what are your plans for Wood-Mode going forward?
B: Right now, we're just trying to put Humpty Dumpty back together again. We're trying to improve the quality, and so far the quality is excellent, even better than what it was at times at Wood-Mode before. We have been working on having on-time deliveries. We continue to grow. I’ve met maybe like maybe 200 of our dealers so far in the last couple of months, trying to understand what their problems are, listening to their suggestions. So that will determine what we really do.
N: At this point, it’s a little too early for you to talk about what kind of lines you'd be talking about in terms of design door styles, what's trending?
N: Well right now, we're doing what Wood-Mode Inc was doing before: the same luxury cabinet company designs and finishes that the old company had. I’m still learning. I feel my job as owner to make sure that we make good decisions, not for me to make those decisions. Of the 290 people there, only three of us who are new. There are 287 people who are expert in what Wood-Mode is and what the cabinet company is. And I'll just make sure that they are able to make the decisions, and I can help implement the decisions that they make.
N: Okay, Mr. French, thank you very much, congratulations, and good luck on your ventures, Vince, thank you for talking with us. This Nigel Maynard coming from the International Builders’ Show 2020.
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